E-Cigarette Ban A Start But Not Enough In A Growing Health Crisis

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As what many see as a compromise between Trump Administration officials wanting to address the growing problem of teen vaping, and the businesses that make money off of selling cartridge-based e-cigarettes, the FDA has banned most flavored vaping cartridges.

The mint and fruit flavored nicotine vaping products will cease to be available on the US market after February 1, and any companies that distribute them will face enforcement action. 

“HHS is taking a comprehensive, aggressive approach to enforcing the law passed by Congress, under which no e-cigarettes are currently on the market legally,” said the Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar after news of the ban was announced.

Alex Azar – Health and Human Services Secretary

Open-tank vaping devices are not commonly sought after by children or teens, and as a result, will not be affected by this ban.  The most popular one  targeted by the ban are the vaporizers that use pre-filled cartridges, like the ones manufactured by Juul Labs Inc.  Other manufacturers affected are NJOY Holdings, Inc. and Reynolds American Inc.

Analysts estimated that the fruit flavored refill pods represented 80% of the retail e-cigarette sales for 2019.  Although menthol e-cigarette pods were initially expected to be part of the ban, things changed and they are still legally available in the US. 

In 2019, 55 Americans died and 2,561 were hospitalized over vaping related illnesses, bringing about a health crisis among America’s youth.  The U.S. government took the necessary steps to remove products specifically targeting children and teens.  “We will not stand idly by as this crisis among America’s youth grows and evolves,and we will continue monitering the situation and take further actions as necessary,” said HHS Secretary Azar.

Still, anti-tobacco groups and public health groups do not feel that this is enough, given that tank based vaping systems are still widely available on the market.  As reported in USA Today, permitting menthol and flavors from open tank systems to remain on the market would “leave a wide pathway for continued e-cigarette use among our nation’s children.” 

“Our efforts have always been how do we balance?”  Azar said.  “How do we make sure products remain available for adults who are using them to get off or stay off combustible tobacco…but also keep the most attractive products or flavors away from kids?”

Again though, the time consuming and cumbersome tank systems found at vape shops do not provide the convenience and the discretion of the e-cigs as a means for teens and children to use nicotine.  So while they are not the preferred choice, tank based systems and their fruit and candy flavored nicotine based mixes will no doubt be a go to following the e-cig ban.

The harmful chemicals and very fine particles inhaled into the lungs of children and teens does lasting and permanent damage to the kidneys, heart and lungs.  Our government took the first steps to deal with the growing health crisis, but more is needed to protect our most innocent and vulnerable citizens.  

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